Sunday, November 20, 2011


on Rhapsody.
Went to Gwen's memorial. Had coughing fits. Came home. Can't talk or laugh without going into a fit. Going to doc this week. This always happens when I get a bit of a cold. It settles into my bronchials.

Brought Julie and Phoenix back to the orphanage tonight. Didn't hit me till a while ago; I tried not to grow attached to them, but I did. There's no space psychically now between me and animals. It's as if it's a mother or a sister, or a lover, a heart connection that can form early. Keeping them alive.

Sunish calls to check on me. These South Asian men. Sensitive. Strong. Good combination.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Occupy Saint Augustine

was a good beginning. Over 200 people attended, peaceful, mostly white, but not all, range of ages.

Went with B, who had her photo taken by me with Miss Shirley (on the left).

Daylight savings time? Again?

Fostering two six month old kittens. Took them to Wags & Whiskers, who sets up shop at Petco with all their adoptees, for vaccinations, a look-see. They told me I needed to name them. Blank. I started looking for some small children. Saw two little girls and went over to them saying I needed some help naming two cats. They came over with mom, and immediately one girl named the black male cat Phoenix, and the little girl named the other tortie Julie. Perfection. That was a magical few moments that are the essence of finding joy and happiness, gratitude and groundedness in life.

Made vegan vegetable soup for S.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Can't stop playin' that Gnarls Barkley song. Crazy. Cee-lo's voice.

More taking cats to vet. Short visit for Calhoun gettings another vaccine.

Picked up spray paint.

Robert cleaned out my car. So nice.

Saw shrink briefly today. Things stable. He's funny.

Occupy Saint Augustine tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pretty Bird

"A newly hatched tricolored heron waits for its siblings to break out of their baby blue shells as a parent keeps a close eye on their nest. The first birds arrived in February and, although May is usually the busiest month, eggs will continue to hatch through the middle of July. Photo by DARON DEAN,"

"Royal Pains." Never have watched that show before, but have been feeling yucky all day and they were having a "marathon." It's totally mediocre, but the houses of the Hamptons are impressive.

An exhausting day yesterday. Got up early, got to the pool by 8.45, swam for a while, came back for a 10am counseling session by phone with a CT client, went to the chiropractor at 12.30, then to get some blood drawn around 1.30 at Flagler Hospital, then to the 7th floor of the hospital to visit my 90 year old friend Gwen who was admitted for a few days. Had a nice chat with her caretaker C., stroked Gwen's forehead for a while as she was sleeping restlessly. S. came in, one of the docs came in and told a funny joke, then S. and I went down to the cafeteria to get a bite to eat. I made bad choices: potato cheddar bacon soup, and pecan pie. The soup had a nice taste, but I don't know what the heck was in it or the really bad pie, cause I came home and crashed, and have slept all day. Was supposed to go to another free Cathedral Basilica concert last night, but just couldn't get myself to outside again. Rob the Magnificent was supposed to come over today to do some work, but I called him to cancel. P. came over around 5pm to do some more grass removal, and I sat outside with him for a while and drank Emergen-C. Now I'm getting ready to go to bed again.

Being on the 7th floor of the hospital afforded a gorgeous view of the marsh, as well as the thunderclouds and lightning. Lightning is a big deal here, and people take cover when it starts. The hospital is clearly short staffed, so need to remember that if I ever end up there. It's got a pretty good reputation, but really, it's all the luck of the draw with these places.

I think I just did too much yesterday. Hope to feel better tomorrow.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Home ownership is not easy. Especially when an old house is involved. Gotta hire lawn guy, electrician, handyman, pest control (termites, Palmetto bugs, mice in the attic, tent and gas the house.) It's exhausting.

Can't use the studio yet as first it was turned into a nursery, and now the electrician says the fuse box needs to be updated as the old one is dangerous, so can't turn on the ac in there. And it's too hot to be out there without cooling.


Just got up from a long nap. Awoke at 7.30, ate some grapes and had a cup of coffee and then went back to bed. I used to have days when I would do nothing but sleep, my "crash" days, but have not had very many in the past year since I arrived in StA. I cannot really nap if someone is coming over to check this or that, fix something, make a delivery. I have to have an almost empty day to do it. Today I have a therapy-via-phone session, and then take Camilla for a follow-up check for her tail wound and her test results.

It's too hot to work outside. A bit of rain is predicted, but I don't think it's going to happen. And they tell me it's only going to get worse. The camp kids have taken over the public pool, and it's too hot to be at the beach except for early morn and late afternoon. There's tons of stuff I can do inside, but I don't like feeling trapped by climate crisis.

Hydrochlorothiazide. The new high blood pressure drug I am taking, 12.5mg once a day. I think it has decreased my appetite, which is a good thing. It also helps retain calcium in the body but can deplete potassium. It's supposed to be "the water pill," a diuretic, but I'm not peeing any more frequently. I'm still a chemical soup. Can't be good.

From the local paper: "Gulf's Biggest Dead Zone Ever Predicted." "New Orleans -- Scientists predict this year's 'dead zone' of low-oxygen water in the northern Gulf of Mexico will be the largest in history -- about the size of Lake Erie -- because of more runoff from the flooded Mississippi River valley." And from my state's governor: "Scott Kills Grown Agency. To be replaced by developer-friendly department. After 42 years, the Dept. of Community Affairs, which is charged with monitoring housing and commercial development in Florida, will cease to exist." It will be merged with "several other agencies" to be called The Dept. of Economic Opportunity. Scott's approval rating is below 30%.

Yesterday I got a second opinion from a pest control company, and will get a third. I worked with the lawn guy for a while. We are removing the grass around my new plantings so that I can put down landscape fabric and then mulch to reduce the need for watering. Almost everything I've planted is doing alright, except it needs constant watering and fertilizing in this weather. A good deal of cash is going into this gardening project.

Spoke with M. from CT yesterday and R. from Oakland, too. So nice to chat with them. R. and F. may come visit in August, with a side trip to Universal Studios.

Spot and Solomon have been adopted to what I was assured are good families. They had to be split up but they are so well socialized that I don't think that will be a problem. I have kept Calhoun, and it turns out Misty is the one who has the most trouble with him, hissing and growling when he walks by her. He's a rambunctious little guy, likes to eat the big cat food, but is very good with using the litter box and scratching post. I also have been cutting his nails since early on and that helps. Those little claws are like needles!


Sky is dark; waiting for the rain. Went to the vet with Camilla. She needs a dental cleaning and a couple of teeth pulled. Has cataracts. Otherwise she's doing pretty well. Trying to switch the big cats over to wet food from dry. Vet says they should only eat wet food, and dry kibble was developed during WW II when there wasn't enough food for pets. The government wanted to euthanize all pets "for the war effort," but a guy named Morris said, don't do that, I'll come up with something. And what he came up with was dry kibble made mostly from grain. She said it's why a lot of cats get fat, because cats are carnivores and cannot use all that grain properly. So I just opened a can of rabbit and green pea wet food for Camilla and Misty and so far they won't touch it. The other issue is Camilla's tendency towards diarrhea, so have to be careful what I feed her.

Stopped at the Urban Back 40 Cafe and got a salad to go. Yum.

7.55am Friday

We had about a 20 minute "gully washer" yesterday. We need about ten of those.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Finally, a longish thunderstorm yesterday. We could use about 10 of those. My first summer in Florida -- drought, wildfires blowing smoke all around the state, and temps daily in the 90s.

It's hard to read the newspaper here. The conservative state and local governments are eroding away in the worst possible manner any assistance to the environment, education, health care, small business. Policies and laws get passed here with no public scrutiny, and often with outright corruption.

The good news is that I have great friends here, and friendliness is everywhere. For instance, I locked myself out of my house yesterday, and my friend T., with IBS and COPD, dragged out his ladder, put it in his truck, and was able to climb through a porch window to open the locked door from the inside. When he leaves he gives me a big hug and kiss and tells me he loves me. (On the other hand, his partner told me to call a locksmith! Ha!)

But in a store recently I was trying to reach something on a high top shelf and couldn't get it. I found a ladder in the store and was about to begin climbing it when a customer came over and said, "You have that look on your face like you need some help." So I asked him to hold the ladder for me. A few minutes later, my hands were full with not only the flower pot from the top shelf, but ten rolls of landscaping fabric. I was struggling. (Didn't think to get a cart.) This same customer went to get a stockboy and asked him to "Help this woman, then when you are finished you can come help me in furniture." A stranger had my back.

Forgot to take my meds when I left the house yesterday morning for a doctor's appt. and when she sat down to talk with me about recent lab results, I just burst into tears. It wasn't anything terribly specific, although some of it had to do with animals and abuse, and she told me the story of how she ended up with 7 cats and two dogs. That made me laugh. She put me on a diuretic for slightly high blood pressure. Most of my lab tests that came back "high" or "low" were borderline and not of too much concern, but the extra weight I am carrying is an issue.

I take the kittens today back to Petco to go on display for adoption. I will only take Spot and Solomon as I am now considering keeping Calhoun. I recently learned that Camilla may have the beginnings of kidney failure. She is 16 and won't be with me that much longer. I've gotten way too attached to the foster kittenz and if Camilla can tolerate Calhoun, I will keep him. It makes me sad to think of them all leaving me, since I've had them since they were 10 days old. I've lived with three cats before, so it's not a new arrangement. Camilla is so sensitive, however, that I don't want her to feel displaced and hence act out her litter box issues.

Last week when I took the kittenz to Petco, there was a volunteer from another pet rescue organization who was abusing women who expressed concern over the dogs they had up for adoption being outside in the heat and the smoke. This guy lit into several of us with the most vile insults and language, and the other two volunteers did nothing to stop him. Two of us complained to the store manager, another called the sheriff, and I called the Humane Society, which sponsored the guys, with my complaint. I was assured they would not return to Petco again, and that particular volunteer would be kept at the facility and not allowed to interact with the public again. It was very upsetting for all of us.

One day this week, T. and I drove out to Green Cove Springs, a new town for me. It is an old Florida town that has fallen on hard times, but right in the center of the place is an open artesian spring, that flows into a swimming pool, then out to the St. John's River. I'd love to go swimming in that pool one of these days. We then tried to go to two plant nursesries, but as soon as we got out of the car the smoke was so bad, we both knew we couldn't breathe, so just drove around lusting after things we wanted in the relative respiratory safety of the air conditioned truck cabin. On our way back to Saint Augustine, we drove down an overgrown dirt road that T. said used to be the site of an African American college here. We detected some stone wall, and concrete slab foundation, but nothing else to indicate anything was there. All in all, it was a fun adventure.

Thursday afternoon I took a two hour class on Florida NE native plants at the local University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension center out on Route 16. I learned a great deal about invasive plants, and how to grow a native plant garden instead of trying to get "exotics" to grow. The drought is so bad, that watering anything non native is not considered sustainable.

Camilla was missing in action for two days, and came back with a puncture wound in her tail. It is healing well, after having some necrotic tissue removed and being given a shot of an antibiotic that is supposed to work for two weeks. Misty got caught out in the thunderstorm yesterday and probably hid under the house, but came back wet anyway. Bindi is well.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Birth Day

My mission for today was to find a flowering maple plant (abutilon) for my friend T., whose 51st birthday was today. Had been looking at various garden centers and nurseries with no luck, so got on the phone first thing. The first place I called, Holly's Nursery, in north Saint Augustine, had one left, so had her hold it for me. Drove out there, got the plant, petted her dog's tummy, got some ground cover jasmin for shade. Stopped at a thrift shop on the way home and bought two good cotton pillowcases, and an unusual manatee vase/mug.

The morning glory and fountain photos are from Southern Horticulture, my favorite nursery around here. I want the fountain. But. $500.

Came home, made contact with a counseling client in CT to try to set up an appt. Watched some "House" reruns, then got ready to go to T's birthday dinner. I was uncomfortable at the gathering, as a person I no longer want to be friends with and who blatantly ignores me was there. Serious discussion after she left about the dynamics. T. and J. are always complaining to me about her, so why do they still hang out with her?

Just fed the kittens, watched them run around and rumpus with one another and all objects in the studio. Will be hard to let them go. But. The only constant is change.

Called S. Made date to go to the pool tomorrow. Might go to a women's art festival in town in the morning, but probably not. Don't want to spend any more money, and feel just too busy.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Just a Day

Fed the kittens, now eating solid food.
Dropped Bindi off at S's, talked with J. and met her mom.
Robert the Magnificent gave me a big hug and grin. He's working for S. now, too.
Drove to Palatka and picked up my painting that was in the student exhibit at the Larimer. Stopped at Farmboy for produce and strawberry rhubarb jam and mango jam.
Saw a new exhibit of excellent photography.
Went to the Art Shoppe and got more brushes in a nice canvas case. The owner had fabulous bling to sell as well.
Ate lunch at City Cafe, all retro 50s, ate field peas, mashed potatoes, cole slaw and a roll.
Picked up Bindi, who had gotten in a fight with Jasper over a treat. Jasper started it.
Went to the chiropractor. Stopped by the new used furniture store next door and bought an iron mandala to hang on my studio outside. Stopped at home depot to look for a flowering maple plant. No luck. Stopped at Pet Paradise, a boarding/grooming facility for cats and dogs, which has a bone shaped swimming pool for the dogs! Left a kitten flier there and met a taupe colored dachshund named Brinkly. Went to an art exhibit at Haven Hospice. Explained my views on art and creativity to M, who was most appreciative. Convinced the girl gang to go out to eat at the Urban Back 40Cafe, which they loved.
Came home, fed the kittens, drank a vodka tonic, now off to bed and finish Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

For Kalichi

After thirty years
Our faces wrinkled and ravaged
coral and gold autumn leaves
stained glass neon as
heads upturned
we gaze, stunned, thru their
color to the clear blue sky

Sharing stories
admit to nervousness
bottle of wine consumed
talk old loves and losses
laugh at foibles politics religion
straying from the natural

Rumi passes back and forth
dog tired
humor intact
cat in lap
strangeness of cultures
re-member re-mind

You, a mirror
You, a faceted crystal
glimpses of an old self
peer around icy rocks
embedded in sore joints
gently no effort
be rocked by ocean waves
bone breathing

It is so easy.

I drink in as much as
I can
it is only the be-ing
which already possessed
simply waits
for me to catch up

Trying is the stuck point
Yet no more than the word
falling from your lips
to hit me with surprise
only to be reclaimed immediately as

The gift is who you have become
Even before you arrived
I knew I wanted to say
don't go
This is not a come on
not a proposal

What's the old song lyric?
My eyes adored you
though I never laid a hand on you
my eyes adored you.

Johnson Road
1 November 2008

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yellow Cat

Yellow Cat

driving home
one large three small
pale yellow golden cats
pass across the road

Stop the car
get out
try to see
where they are going
who could possibly
get close
that yellow

each time I pass
that intersection
I look for them
mama and three kittens
who glowed and
stopped me in my tracks

I worry for them
I want them
feral is wild
and wild is strong
doing what needs to be done
for the little ones

White buddha
glows in the shop
visited for the first time
in her hands is a ring to
hold a candle
her face an expression
of utter peace
fire is wild
peace is wild
both can have no limits

Medicine card
reveals the Raven
"you have earned the right
to experience more of life's
dark black raven
hole in space
open consciousness

fire light
glowing feline
peacful openness
wild darkness
peaceful light
wild fire
peaceful feline
raven magic

Monday, January 24, 2011


27 January 2011

Palatka shop window.

Antique shop.

Lovely candy counter in the antique shop.

Everything in moderation, including moderation. -Oscar Wilde

Photos from the town of Palatka, where I am taking the oil painting class. Instructor wanted me to come to another class again this morning, but I feel I'm doing too much in general. He is trying to teach us to paint the way he does, but I said I want to find my own style, and he is very willing to work with me on that. He said, bring in some pictures of the kind of painting you like, and I'll guide you there. So generous is he. I told him I couldn't paint unless I was in a group, and he said, "Don't say that." The only way you get good at something is practice, practice, practice, and I hate to practice alone. He suggested putting up photos of people I like, playing music, and I thought those were good ideas. I don't tend to display photos of friends and family (makes me miss you all too much), but it might make sense to do that in the art studio.

Painter is putting in the indoor window sills and the baseboard today. A little more joint compound here and there, paint the floor, and then done. Carpenter will hopefully replace the door next week, but I can move in before the door is done. Have been finding shelving, chairs, cabinets at yard sales and on Freecycle so furnishing the place will not be a problem. Labor and materials is what's killing me, but it's turning out beautifully. I never would have guessed I'd have a freestanding art studio, or even want one.

Yesterday I went to what I thought would be a training to do pet therapy with hospice patients. I was the only one who showed up, however, so it was rescheduled. Extensive application, three referrences, a TB test, and a day long training required, and they would like a commitment of two times a month to visit patients. I think now it will be too much for me, as I am already doing the pet therapy with another group, going to nursing/rehab venues. But hospice has NO pet therapists in this area, and it's hard to say no, esp. since I've already indicated that I want to. But I think after I have my house/studio together, I'll feel more organized. I still feel like I am living in domestic chaos. Plus I want to spend more time on art. There's SO much to do here.

Monday Bindi and I went to a rehab center and visited with some other doggie therapist volunteers. I ended up laughing a lot with one of the patients as she told me about her dog Wolfy. She had a wonderful sense of humor. Her roommate was coloring huge pages of Disney female characters, Snow White, Cinderella, etc. and her daughter takes the colored pages and gives them to children who are in the hospital where she works. One man took delight is patting Bindi quite firmly on her back, which Bindi didn't seem to mind at all. Forty-five minutes is our limit. And we discovered a resident cat sitting on someone's bed. We didn't go in that room.

Art class on Tuesday last. Big rain was expected with tornado warnings so over half the class didn't show up. I didn't care, even tho it was a half hour drive. Instructor is going to give us some computer lessons on using a free downloadable Photoshop clone called Gimp (why in hell did they name it that?), which he says will allow one to manipulate a photograph before painting to add or subtract elements to create a better composition. As I arrived in town early, I went to City Cafe, which is a completely fun throwback to the 1950s with red vinyl and chrome seats, photos of James Dean and the Rat Pack and others, a jukebox, lots of tchotchkes from the era, and good food.

Temperature should be up in the 60s today.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

foggy morning

photo: Saint Augustine courtyard.

sun is shining. my head is foggy. up too late. late afternoon nap. Rimbaud.
"Just Kids," by Patti Smith. highly recommended. carpenter came yesterday. installed another large window in the studio. says he will be back tomorrow to do the last window. then, paint the inside. then, move in. oil painting class in Palatka. old Florida. good teacher. i have completely different style from everyone else. i call it "lean and loose."

another visit to another nursing home. i ask them all if they have had dogs. the ones who say yes begin to cry. they touch Bindi gently, with trembling hands. Bindi is quiet, perhaps a little frightened. allows all touches. i ask a woman how she is feeling. she says, not good, and begins to cry. i sit and hold her hand and we look into one another's eyes for the longest time. then longer. i say nothing, she says nothing. her eyes are so blue. she is content to hold my gaze. i finally say, "I love you." after some time she says, i have a new friend. i think she means someone in the home. here? I ask. you, she says.

a short manual for making a new friend:
1. ask how she is doing.
2. hold hands.
3. gaze into each other's eyes.
4. continue to gaze.
5. gaze more.
6. say "I love you."

i leave, shaken. i call T., tell him the story. he gets it, absolutely gets it. the perfect person to call. we both shed tears, across the miles. ah, miss you, T.

a friend comes from CT to visit. with her son. my first visitors. the kid watches tv, she and i stretch across my bed and talk of things deep and important. nothing better. i show them the city. they love it. they had been to disney-out of this-world. sitting on the front porch with the young boy, i ask him. what have you liked best about Florida so far? being here, he replies. being here, my mind silently repeats. disneyworld had been too much for him, too many people, the lines too long, too much going on. here, it is quiet, and i make his favorite dinner.

early december i go to visit my kids in the cold north. i get so hungry for them sometimes. the oldest, so smart and talented and beautiful. oldest boy, kind and funny, like his dad. the middle girl, a flower. the middle boy, sensuous, high energy. the two little ones, peas in a pod, love their small voices. the baby, so adored, with so many parents, learning words so fast and valiantly putting up with Bindi. i try to help out in small ways. become authoritarian with the kids. pick those coats/mittens/gloves/scarves up off the floor. now. take out of the trash. keep the noise down. i hope they didn't mind my direct ways.

the night before my birthday, i sent out an email to friends here to see if anyone wants to have birthday lunch with me the next day. amazingly, eight people respond yes and i have a fun spontaneous party planned 18 hours in advance. this is the right place to be.

on christmas I have two dinners with two groups of friends.

the rising full moon in december finds me at the beach with a friend as we watch the coral crescent ascend from the edge of the sea. as usual, another person, a young man, comes along and we get into a conversation about dogs. so common here, to converse with strangers as if one has known them a long time. i love that. so much less holding back than in the northeast. how stifled i was there, trying to fit in, going against my nature, going against what probably should be natural for most people, the communality of an intimate tribe.

carpenter just called. his today job got cancelled, he's on his way over to put in another window. YES! taking my art more seriously has moved the project along perhaps?